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October 8, 2019

Italy: Torino, Fiat Lingotto Factory


The relatively unchanged façade of the Fiat Lingotto Factory

Five kilometers from the center of Turin is the. For 59 years 80 different models cars were produced here on an assembly line manned by 6,000 workers. The factory was designed so that the line snaked its way up through the factory’s floors ending at the top. When the reached the end of the assembly line the completed vehicles were started up, driven around the rooftop test track, down a spiral ramp, and out to the showrooms. When it opened Fiat’s Lingotto plant was at the pinnacle of industrial architecture.

In 1982 the Fiat assembly line at Lingotto was closed for good, a victim of the changes in the industry. Though the 16 million square foot factory no longer produces cars, the building remains.

The raised walkway to the mall

Today the outside facades of the Lingotto plant are little altered from the time production ceased. On the inside of the building things have changed dramatically. The floors where vehicles were once assembled have been converted to a modern entertainment facility/shopping mall. Vestiges of its time as a factory are still there, but it mostly feels like a generic international shopping mall. But with all of the changes to the Lingotto factory there’s one feature that has been saved: The oval rooftop test track.

The Lingotto test track periodically makes its way into popular culture. Most famous is its appearance in the getaway sequence of the 1969 version of the movie “The Italian Job”. With the continuing public interest the track is open for public visits as part of the rooftop museum.

Our disappointing view of the rooftop track

The track, viewed through the windows.

Or mostly open, as we learned. In between the rains we made the trip out from the center of Turin by public transport and searched through the Lingotto building to find the test track at the top. We entered the museum reception and went to pay the entrance fee. It was a complete surprise when we were told that the track was closed for an event so private that it wasn’t even announced on Pinacoteca Agnelli’s website. Though we begged they would even let us pop outside for a quick couple of pictures. Sad, as it did look cool to walk around.

—————–

We visited the Fiat Lingotto Factory in November of 2018.

A picture of the spiral ramp that we were not able to see. (From Wikipedia, Creative Commons license from IIVQ / Tijmen Stam)

The outside (From Wikipedia, Creative Commons license from IIVQ / Tijmen Stam)

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